Michael Wiseman (Eric Close)
- Alias: Michael Newman
- Originally played by: John Goodman
- Chronological age: 45
- Physical age: 26
- Former weight: 292
- Current weight: 175
- Former shoe size: 12
- Current shoe size:10 1/2
- Eyes: Blue
- Height: 6'
- Marital status: Considers himself married, though he's legally dead
- Wife: Lisa Wiseman
- Daughter: Heather Wiseman
- Former residence: New Rochelle, NY
- Current residence: NYC, corner of 63rd and Madison
- Previous employer: Grand Empire Insurance
- Current employer:The U.S. government (supervised by Dr. Theodore Morris)
- Pretends to be employed by: The IRS
- Cause of death: Pushed into path of the F-train
- Favorite foods: Huevos rancheros, Devil Dogs, hot dogs, Lisa's spicy pecans, peanut butter cups
- Favorite basketball team: New York Knicks
- Favorite song: "Groovin'," by the Rascals
- Preferred activities: Bowling, taking Lisa out to a show and falling asleep in the second act (except for "Oh, Calcutta"), playing "Heart and Soul" on the piano with Lisa, reading
- Medical conditions: Photosensitivity syndrome (which he still has after "the big makeover")
An ordinary insurance executive (played by John Goodman in the first few minutes of the pilot) who, after getting turned down for a promotion in favor of the 27-year-old he taught, goes out drinking with a friend - and subsequently is jostled into the path of an oncoming subway train. He's in the wrong place at the right time, however; his brain is saved, and after a bizarre interview in which he is only a brain hooked up to sophisticated equipment, his mind is transplanted into an artificially created body bioengineered by the government. Since the scientists couldn't build a brain, they had to harvest the next available one. (My theory: the Senators funding the project threatened to pull their funding, and Dr. Morris had to make a hasty decision.)
- Can hold breath for 6 minutes 11 seconds
- Top running speed: 35 mph
- Heals in a fraction of the time that an ordinary man does
- Can bend solid steel (at least the metal bar of a subway gate), and can punch through steel
- Can bench-press 1000 lbs, pull a tanker truck to a stop, hold two 300-lb people on a bench in the air with one finger
- Can sell holes to a doughnut
- Is not bulletproof
- Can jump over a railing, fall a full story, and land on his feet with no trouble
- Physically, can withstand temperatures of -34 degrees and +134 degrees (Celsius or Fahrenheit, I don't know which)
- Can push open a locked bank vault door with bolts set six inches into the walls
- Can punch his fingers through solid concrete
- Able to heal from being shot eight times point-blank in the stomach in less than eight days
- Can flip over a parked car with his bare hands
- Can heal from severe burns overnight
- Fast enough to chase down and catch a lethal bee
- Can survive a fall from a 20-story building relatively intact
- Survived stings from several plague-carrying bees
Now he has a second chance at life, being trained to do dangerous things that "ordinary men are loathe to do." The catch in the deal is this: he cannot allow anyone from his former life to know that he is still alive, or it will cost both his - and their - lives. Which is where the problem arises.
Michael isn't ready to give up on his former life, much to the chagrin of his supervisors. He still longs for his wife and daughter and friends, and isn't the type to accept a new existence as a warrior. He's fairly easy-going and gentle, with a surprising amount of integrity, refusing to assassinate a spy in cold blood even when he's ordered to. But when it comes to his family, he'll do anything to protect them.
His lonely existence really gets to him at times, but he's still determined to keep on going. Humor is his main defense mechanism, and his wit is often put to good use irritating his superiors. What keeps Michael going is the hope that someday, maybe, he'll be reunited with his family again.
Dr. Theodore Morris (Dennis Haysbert)
The doctor in charge of the project, he's a mysterious, anal Frankenstein - one moment exulting over his creation like Don King, the next cold and condescending. Amidst the group of scientists who contributed to the project, he's apparently the one getting most of the credit and the responsibility.
- Also known as: Theo (to his sister and Dr. Rivers)
- Employed by: The U.S. government; at one time working for the CIA; has connections in the Pentagon
- Marital status: Single
- Children: None
- Family: Sister, niece, nephew, and "Grandma Pearl"
- Briefly involved with: Dr. Lauren Rivers, Anna Lee
- Most precious possession: Michael Wiseman
- Second most precious possession: His vintage Jaguar
- Activities: Can play pool
- Quirks: Extremely anal-retentive, tends to break out into song on occasion
- Repertoire to date: "Close to You," "Fly Me to the Moon," the "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" song, "Ooh Child," "A Bicycle Built for Two," a version of "I've Got You Under My Skin" (i.e. "I've got you under surveillance..."), "Good Morning"
- Prior history: Pioneered human construction sciences in late 80's, then disappeared; when on CIA payroll, went to school with (and got in a brawl with) a professional hitman known as Murphy; went to Johns Hopkins with Freddie Lizzard as his roommate
For unexplained reasons, he seems almost reluctant to follow through on his threats of death if Michael contacts anyone - he's much more amenable to simply scaring the life out of Roger. Not to mention the fact that he gives Michael a choice at the end of "On the Town" instead of taking the more pragmatic route of simply "recasting" the part, and then letting him visit his wife and secure her insurance money.
Theo is a man of contradictions - his mood shifts from extreme to extreme depending on the situation. Sometimes he's strict to the point of cruelty, and then he risks it all to save Michael's life. He's a strange and changeable person, and difficult to figure out.
Lisa Wiseman (Margaret Colin)
Lisa is probably the only one of his friends and family in the pilot who finds it difficult to believe he's dead - and she refuses to believe the insurance company's claims that Michael would commit suicide.
- Also known as: Lisee (to her husband)
- Age: 39 (presumably)
- Graduated from: Buffalo State, 1983; degree in art history
- Former college roommate: Claire
- Maiden name: Lisa Schlegarmilch
- Marital status: Widow of Michael Wiseman
- Daughter: Heather Wiseman
- Other family: Father and brother deceased due to heart attacks
- Hair color: Dark brown, she thinks
- Residence: New Rochelle, NY
- Employment: Selling real estate
- Potentially involved with: Gerald Misenbach, Ben
- Preferred activities: Ice skating (but she's at about my skill level)
- Sports she doesn't understand: Football
She's not employed outside the home upon his death, and although she has a degree, it's difficult to get a job with a degree in art history. Despite her situation, she's uncommonly generous to others, and tends to follow her gut instinct on several occasions. She has too much pride to take money as charity, especially when it seems like she's being bought.
While she doesn't know the truth as of yet, she senses something familiar about Michael when she encounters him the night he escapes, and thinking he's a homeless man, buys him shoes and a shirt. She knows him as "Mr. Newman," an IRS agent. Thanks to a series of misunderstandings and the Doc's machinations, she's furious with him one moment and the next moment he's redeemed herself and she's intrigued by him again. Is this yo-yo relationship going to keep going like this? Yeah, probably.
Heather Wiseman (Heather Matarazzo)
Lisa and Michael's teenage daughter. She's generally noncommittal and surly with Michael early on, although that's somewhat deceptive. She really does love her dad, but just didn't get a chance to tell him before he was killed. Her last conversation with him was brief and sullen, something she's still aware of.
- Age: 16
- Parents: Lisa and Michael Wiseman
- Grade: High school sophomore
- Extracurricular activities: Band and soccer
- Faith: Doesn't believe in anything
- (Ex-)best friend: Gretchen
- Boyfriend(?): Nick, then Craig, now probably single again
- Sports she doesn't understand: Football
While she's somewhat spoiled and tends to overreact to situations, she also has a friendly relationship with Lisa. She also is in support of Lisa pursuing Michael... if she only knew, but that won't happen...
Roger Bender (Gerrit Graham)
Michael's best friend and co-worker at the insurance firm where Michael once worked. Unlike Michael, he's a coward at heart: despite his sympathies towards Lisa's situation, he'll probably testify for the insurance firm for fear of losing his job. Much more pragmatic than Michael, he's willing to stretch the truth to save his neck, but he certainly doesn't like doing it.
- Best friend: Michael Wiseman
- Employment: Senior VP, Grand Empire Insurance
- Marital status: Husband of Ruth
- Daughter: Amanda (currently at school in England)
- Car: Silver Mercedes
- Habits: Occasionally sneaks a cigarette
- Other: Makes his yam surprise for Thanksgiving; routinely fibs to make personal lunches deductible as a business expense - e.g. citing that Lisa's the CFO of a big telecommunications firm; can be helpful when he has to be.
Pragmatic or not, he's still got a fairly wild and somewhat silly imagination - hence, his assumption that Michael's been reincarnated. If he's scared enough, he'll believe an otherwise ridiculous story. (Why else would he have bought Morris' "playing God?") Cowardly though he may be, Roger's got a fairly developed sense of guilt, and he doesn't like Spence... so if it means Spence's ass is on the line and not his, he's sure to help out with a little infiltration.
If they appear or are mentioned in more than one ep, and have an effect on the plot, they count as recurring in my book. (Carla and Gretchen haven't popped up enough yet.)
Gerald Misenbach (Chip Zien)
Originally hired by Lisa to deal with Grand Empire's refusal to pay up, Misenbach immediately took a shine to Lisa and asked her out on a date. Their first date - and her willingness to work with him - ended when she discovered he was married and stormed out. But that wasn't the end of it; Misenbach was so infatuated with Lisa that his own psychiatrist became tired of it and told him to either try to repair his marriage or to end it and go after her.
- Occupation: Lawyer; formerly Lisa's lawyer
- Marital status: Currently separated from wife, Lori
- Children: Two; one a boy about Heather's age
- Residence: In Manhattan
- Potentially involved with: Lisa Wiseman
- Other activities: Guest lectures at real estate courses
- Appeared/mentioned in: Origins, On the Town, Nothing to Fear but Nothing to Fear, By the Light of the Moon
Misenbach chose the second option, and continued to pursue Lisa, mainly when he saw her at her real estate classes. She finally decided to go out with him, although she wasn't ready to get completely serious. While Misenbach seems like a bit of a sleaze for cheating on his wife, he also genuinely likes Lisa, and is willing to take it slow.
Craig Spence (Chad Lowe)
An arrogant, cowardly, dishonest little jackass who took the job Michael wanted mainly because Michael's honesty in court cost Grand Empire $400 million. Spence hasn't forgotten that, and he withholds Michael's life insurance policy simply out of spite, a fact he isn't above admitting outright to Lisa. Even Roger, who's too cowardly to stand up to him, despises Spence.
- Employed by: Grand Empire Insurance - in charge of Michael's old division
- Age: 27
- Formerly mentored by: Michael Wiseman
- Financial info: Keeps money in Swiss bank accounts; gets a bonus when he doesn't have to pay up
- Afraid of: Climbing out onto a ledge to get his account number; probably Michael Newman, now
- Majored in: Economics
- Appeared/mentioned in: Origins, The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice, Everybody Who's Anybody, Boy Wonder
He's not exactly all that clever; he plays right into Michael's hands when Michael infiltrates Grand Empire. For all his arrogance, when he's confronted with a truly terrifying situation, Spence will crack like an egg. And he does.
Agent (Timothy Devlin)
The only member of Theo's team who's been given more than one line, essentially Theo's right-hand man. Has helped the good doctor out with interrogation (making sense of Roger's theory), surveillance, and even assists in the operating room. Occasionally resorts to sarcasm. Does not get along well with Michael.
- Employed by: Dr. Theodore Morris - has known Theo for years
- Hair: None, it's shaved off :)
- Appeared/mentioned in: On the Town, Nothing to Fear but Nothing to Fear, Disco Inferno, Deep in My Heart is a Song, Boy Wonder, There Are No Words, The Bugmeister, The Bugmeister Part Bee, The Eggman Cometh
Ruth Bender (voiced by Christine Baranski)
To say Ruth has "appeared" in an episode is really stretching; the actress who plays her has never been seen, but heard as an offstage voice. Her marriage to Roger is anything put blissful - as she tells Roger, "There is no anniversary because there is no marriage. You ignore it as if it was our marriage." Roger and Ruth are always arguing over something or other, and Ruth seems to be the one controlling things. She kicked Roger out of the house over a dispute over selling their home and the fact that Roger was sick of having her run his life.
- Married to: Roger Bender
- Weakness: Escargot
- Daughter: Amanda Bender
- Abilities: Can play "creepy Neil Diamond songs" on the piano
- Appeared/mentioned in: The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice, Nothing to Fear but Nothing to Fear, Pulp Turkey (mentioned), By the Light of the Moon (mentioned), Fire and Ice, Everybody Who's Anybody, Boy Wonder, Lizzard's Tale, The Bugmeister
Ben (Jamey Sheridan)
Lisa's very first client, who was attracted to her from the moment he walked into the real estate office and smart-assed his way around the rotation to finally get to her desk. He was primarily attracted to her because he thought she was married; he wants someone who just wants to have a good time. He's somewhat arrogant, but also persistent, and anything but subtle. Vanished completely and never returned Lisa's calls.
- Marital status: Single
- Potentially involved with: Lisa Wiseman
- Employment: Investment banker
- Appeared/mentioned in: I Am the Greatest, Film at Eleven
General Irving (James Rebhorn)
While Theo seems to have control over the project, even he has to answer to someone - and when the project's funding needs to be renewed, Irving is the man he has to please. The General is anything but patient, willing to go so far as to replace the brain of "the prototype" rather than give Theo time to discover what's wrong. He doesn't seem to understand that Michael is still a human being, nor why Theo would risk the project for his sake. Irving, however, is not only corrupt, but a traitor as well - he tried to use Michael to steal top-secret defense designs to sell to enemies of the U.S, and held Lisa at gunpoint when Michael wouldn't hand over the disk.
- Position: Head of Pentagon committee in charge of project funding
- Appeared/mentioned in: Deep in My Heart is a Song, Everybody Who's Anybody
Janet (Faith Prince)
To say Janet can't mind her own business is an understatement. Along with Carla, she's unable to stop prying into Lisa's love life, but she also encourages Lisa to get out and enjoy herself. She's genuinely nice to Lisa, was absolutely drooling over Ben, and has a definite yen for Roger... gee, what would she think of "Mr. Newman?" :) Janet is the antithesis of subtlety when it comes to flirting - unfortunately for Roger.
- Employment: Works in same real estate office as Lisa
- Marital status: Lost her husband to a female golf pro
- Other: Office gossip, enjoys egging Lisa on to go out and "boogie."
- Appeared/mentioned in: I Am the Greatest, Film at Eleven, Everybody Who's Anybody, The Eggman Cometh